Rugs are an easy, one-step way to elevate almost any space — as well as an attractive way to provide extra warmth and softness when the seasons call for it. While it’s important to consider where you want your rug to go and how big it should be relative to the room, you might also be wondering which rug works best for each room in your home. Here, we — pardon the pun — walk you through some of the most popular types of rugs, and the pros and cons of each.
1. Natural wool rugs
Wool is the top go-to material for area rugs, and with good reason. Wool naturally stains less easily than some other materials, and is easier to clean, too. Because of this, a wool rug is a no-brainer choice for high-traffic areas in your home, such as the living room or hallway. Usually handmade, wool rugs offer high quality, but can come with the price tag to reflect it. The advantages outweigh the downsides, however: Wool is a natural, eco-friendly material, and offers softness and warmth, too. Wool rugs also come in a vast array of styles, including shag (a messy high pile), low or cut pile (a neater, less cozy look) and flat-weave (for a more beach-house or lake-house feel).
2. Flat-weave rugs
If you’re going for a lighter, more summery feel, a flat-weave rug is the best choice. Typically made of natural fibers such as jute, bamboo, cotton, silk or sisal, these rugs are a bit less soft but more lightweight than a classic wool rug (though wool can be flat-woven, too). The natural fibers make these styles an eco-conscious pick, and these kinds or rugs are usually more affordable than wool. Although flat-weave rugs are fairly resistant to foot traffic, they are less fond of the elements: Make sure to place yours away from any humidity and never in lots of direct sunlight. They are great for covering larger areas or to layer under smaller, intricately patterned rugs.
3. Hair-on-hide rugs
Especially for smaller rooms, such as a cozy bedroom or home office, hair-on-hide rugs (think cowhide or sheepskin) are a great choice. They add luxurious texture and softness and generally last quite long, too, making them a good investment. The few downsides? Hair-on-ride rugs are best for low-traffic areas since they can soil quickly, and they don’t do so well with humidity (they can buckle and emit a musky aroma). If you do feel uncomfortable with the idea of a natural animal rug in your home, you can source a replica rug made from synthetic materials — so you can still achieve all of the same, earthy, textural style that they afford.
4. The new synthetic rugs
Modern synthetic rugs have plenty going for them. Made from materials such as viscose, nylon or polyester, they can mimic the look of natural fibers without the higher price tags. They’re also easy to clean and quite sturdy, meaning they can withstand humidity and sometimes even the outdoors. Although you can lose out on some softness with a synthetic rug, they’re not all created equal: By shopping around, you can find ones that feel just as soft as the plushest wool. The main disadvantages? They’re not the most eco-friendly unless they are made with recycled materials and they don’t feel quite as premium as natural ones.
Unsure about what rug to unroll?
If you’re uncertain about what kind of rug to pick for a given room, make sure to consider whether there is any humidity or sunshine in that room, whether it has high foot traffic and whether you’re looking for a more casual or a more cozy vibe.